Cannon fire

Ethanol flame dramatically increases, a series of pops or bangs follow after potassium permanganate is added

Scientific name: Oxidization of ethanol in presence of hydrogen peroxide is accelerated by the addition of potassium permanganate


Cannon fire - ethanol combustion demonstration

by Royal Society Of Chemistry

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Use safety screens.

Wear eye protection.

There is a serious fire risk - a fire extinguisher should be ready.

Make sure there is nothing flammable nearby.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

C2H5OH + 5O2 → 2CO2 + 3H2O

2MnO4-+ 3H2O2 → 2MnO2 + 2H2O + 3O2 + 2OH-

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. Pour 30 ml of hydrogen peroxide and 20 ml of ethanol into evaporating basin.
  2. Light the mixture with a burning splint.
  3. Sprinkle potassium permanganate into the evaporating basin (keeps at arm's length, add about 0.5 g of KMnO4).

Scientific background

Potassium permanganate reacts with hydrogen peroxide to produce oxygen.

This oxygen locally accelerates the burning of ethanol and the mini-explosions are produced.


Published on 18 March 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst